Do I Need an Attorney to Adopt a Stepchild?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Monday April 12, 2021.

Although most newborn and Department of Children and Families adoptions in Florida need to be carried out by attorneys or adoption agencies, those involving stepparents do not, although help from an attorney can greatly expedite the process. Under Florida law, a stepparent adoption gives a married person the same parental rights and responsibilities over his or her stepchild as those of the birth parent. The legal consequence of such an adoption is granted by a court order known as a Final Judgment of Step Parent Adoption, by which the adopting parent becomes a parent on an equal basis with his or her spouse. The birth certificate is changed to reflect the names of both the stepparent and the natural parent. A stepparent adoption simply legalizes the parental relationship that already exists, making it official and legally valid and solidifying the bond between the child and the adopting parent.

The Legal Process for Completing a Stepparent Adoption

In Florida, the first phase of a stepparent adoption involves determining if the stepparent is qualified to adopt. Providing that the person can offer effective parenting and is married to a legal parent of the child, the person should be allowed to legally adopt.

The court case starts by filing a petition for adoption. The petitioner is the stepparent–the person adopting the child, who is then joined by the spouse. To file a stepparent adoption in Florida, the petition must include the following information:

  • The child’s date and place of birth
  • The surname the child will be given if it is being changed
  • A statement regarding how long the stepparent has lived with the child
  • Reasons for which the stepparent desires to adopt the child.

Filing the petition starts the process then the absent parent has a chance to oppose the adoption. If the absent parent avoids contesting the adoption or consents, the court will finalize the adoption, giving the child a new birth certificate showing his or her new surname and parents.

If you and want to learn about how our experienced Florida family law attorneys can help you with expediting your stepparent adoption or wish to schedule a consultation, please call us toll free at 386-252-3000 or fill out the contact form on our website. We have helped countless couples in southern Florida with stepparent adoptions, and can easily take care of the entire process for you.

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